Thursday, 4 November 2010

Typical students...?

I can remember a TV advert of yesteryear; in it someone says "typical student, always protesting". I can't remember what it advertised; a rather sensible looking young man rolls his eyes heavenward at the stereotypical (wishful) thinking of an older woman - his grandmother?

My friend, whose employer is one of those public bodies about to be axed in government cuts, said a few months ago that the cuts are inevitable. "Even students aren't bothered; if even students aren't protesting, then you really are stuffed", she said, or words to that effect.

Well, since then, there have been some fairly radical protests against cuts; the odd blip here and there. Students and staff at Barnet and Enfield's own Middlesex University demonstrated and occupied against the axing of the philosophy department. Students occupied part of Goldsmiths today and they are sitting in now. With the scale of the cuts proposed to Higher Education, we will see much more of that, I'm sure.

Wednesday's announcement that universities will be free to charge undergraduates up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees (and they have to borrow more money to pay for their living expenses), means students will also need to step up their campaign around student finance.

The National Union of Students (NUS) has, for the first time in many years, called a demonstration against HE cuts and around student finance (although it's not clear what their actual demands are). I have been asking trade unionist friends to take some annual leave and go on the demonstration next Wednesday 10 November (assemble from 11.30am at Horse Guards Avenue).

Once upon a time, student demos were ten a penny; now they are rare and precious. It's not because students don't care any more; it's because they are worried about what their education is costing them and their parents and are scared to miss a lecture. And because, frankly, they are out of practice.

I'm happy to share the news that Middlesex University management have agreed to students and lecturers at the university postponing lectures next Wednesday to enable them to go on the NUS demo. Middlesex University Students' Union (MUSU) has organised a warm-up demonstration next Monday 8 November from 4-6pm at the Hendon campus on the Burroughs. If you are in the area, drop by! And, of course, a number of them will be on the national demonstration. Watch out for the banners and placards.

P.S. On a personal note, I almost certainly would not have gone to University College London as an undergraduate if I'd had to pay £9,000 a year and living expenses. My enemies might say that's no loss! But my friends know different.


Mrs Angry said...

I heard a student representative yesterday comment that the Libdems have effectively lost a generation of supporters because of their treachery over the fee scandal. And like you I welcome the fact that students now have the motivation to get involved in political activities, although as a parent of a soon to be student I really, really wish this wasn't going to affect him. We all know that the children of Cameron, Osborne and Clegg will never for one moment have to worry about repaying their student loans, as Daddy will foot the bill, of course.

Moaneybat said...

This is a good blog. It's also a pertinent comment Mrs Angry makes about Daddies, Cameron, Osborne and Clugg footing the bill of their children's education, because for a significant number of voters, their children will simply not get there, however, we forget which party when in power following the "Dearing Report," stutteringly, left this farce to be completed by this alliance government.

We forget, that some in a few of those student protests of yesteryear, became, the parents of recent graduates and of todays students. I really do welcome todays students becoming politically active on this issue, after the years of silence under New Labour. Being politically active students did no harm for the likes of Daniel Cohn Bendit and a certain Mr Tariq Ali.